For Immediate Release
Latino community members and consumers to protest a Bushwick store that paid its workers as little as $3.33/hour and owes three female workers $218,000 in back wages and damages. These workers were fired for complaining about illegal wages to the Department of Labor.
Maria Martinez, Julia Ortiz and Consuelo Echeverry suffered gross violations of their rights to minimum wage and overtime pay while employed by the Save Smart Department Store during its incarnation as 1275 Department Store, Inc. and as Save Smart Department Store, Inc. Julia Ortiz and Consuelo Echeverry were also fired for "causing trouble" for the company by complaining to the New York State Department of Labor.
During more than five years of employment, the plaintiffs regularly worked eleven hour days. During most of their employment with Save Smart, they were paid a mere thirty-five dollars per day, or roughly $3.33 per hour. Not once during their employment did thelaintiffs receive the correct overtime rate of pay ("time and a half"), although they worked at least sixty hours per week, plus extra hours during holiday seasons.
We estimate that Save Smart owes Maria, Julia and Consuelo over $218,000 in unpaid wages and damages. We are also demanding that Save Smart pay Julia and Consuelo additional damages for firing them in retaliation for reporting Save Smart’s violations to the Department of Labor. Both women were without work for months and suffered major financial hardship as a result of the firing.
Latino workers, consumers, congregants, and community based organizations will unite to decry illegal sweatshop working conditions and will call for living wages for Save Smart workers.
Make the Road by Walking and scores of Bushwick consumers
Saturday, October 7, 2006, 4:15 p.m.
1275 Broadway, in front of Save Smart; J train to Gates Avenue
Interviews with affected workers are available upon request